Philips hue Wi-Fi-enabled lightbulbs with smartphone color control


October 29, 2012

Philips hue system lets you customize the lighting in every room in the house

Philips hue system lets you customize the lighting in every room in the house

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Just last month we looked at the LIFX Wi-Fi enabled, multi-color LED light bulb that could be controlled via a smartphone. With 16 days still to go, the Kickstarter project has exceeded its US$100,000 funding goal 13-fold, suggesting there might just be a market for these things. Looking to claim its own slice of this pie, Philips has just flicked the switch on its own somewhat similar offering called hue.

With hue, Philips is essentially taking its Ambilight TV technology introduced in 2004 that projects light corresponding to the onscreen content onto the wall behind the TV, and putting it in a regular light socket. The Wi-Fi-enabled LED bulbs screw into existing (E26 or E27) sockets and connect to a home network via a bridge that plugs into the Wi-Fi router. Each bridge supports up to 50 individual hue bulbs.

This wireless connectivity allows each bulb's color and brightness to be controlled via an app on a smartphone or tablet. The app includes four pre-programmed “Light Recipes” based on Philips’ research into the biological effects of lighting that are designed specifically for relaxation, reading, concentrating and energizing.

However, users are free to customize the lighting as they see fit and save their settings, which Philips calls “light scenes,” for calling up at a later time with a touch of a button. Users can even share light scenes on the hue online community site and Philips is encouraging developers to get on board by creating an open source platform for the hue system. The bulbs also use the ZigBee Light Link standard and can be integrated with other ZigBee certified home automation systems.

The app also allows any photo stored on a smartphone or tablet to form the color palette with users able to select the lighting color by touching any area of the picture.

Timers can be set to trigger specific brightness and colors, so in addition to rousing one gently from their slumber by gradually bathing the room in light, a color change could signify it’s time to get the kids to school or to bed. The wireless control capability allows users to turn the lights on and off remotely to make it look like someone is home.

Future plans for the hue bulbs include integration with sound and video systems – which would essentially be a surround light Ambilight system – and a geo-location service that would automatically switch the lights on when you get home and turn them off when you leave.

An app for iOS devices is currently available, however, an Android app is due in December. In the meantime, Android users can control the hue bulbs via the hue website.

Philips is initially only selling the hue system through Apple Stores and with a starter kit including three bulbs and the wireless bridge going for US$200 and additional bulbs selling for $60 each.

The below video from Philips shows the hue lightbulbs in action.

Source: Philips

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

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We bought some of the first colour changing lamps from Philips in the Netherlands and they are still great. Once we used them in one room it seemed weirdly old fashioned not to have a colour choice in the other rooms.

Once a standard emerges, homes without fitted colour lighting will be second class, just like when colour TV arrived.

Expect the same inside vehicles and personalised pools of colour light at restaurant tables.

Doug MacLeod

They canned the LIFX campaign pledges before the end - I think kickstarter or the inventors must have gotten worried about overfunding or the vast quantities of cash suddently involved.

Awesome idea though, grab a $10 Chinese bulb from ebay, throw away the remote, whack a 10c chip in it, and sell the result for $70.

That $1.3M LIFX money is $1M pure profit...


This is simply amazing; controlling lighting through smart phones. I think LED lights have much more to offer us than we can even imagine.

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